It’s a warm day in Barcelona and as I enjoy a cool glass of champagne I faintly begin to hear the ‘thunder.’ The unmistakable and deafening roar of a Formula One engine. As the sound grows louder, I turn to see the cars passing by. In seconds they've gone and all that remains is the acrid smell of burnt rubber. Around me the excitement builds up. It’s the warm-up lap before the start of the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya.
I am at the Red Bull Hospitality Suite and with me a vibrant crowd anxiously awaits for the race to begin. It's only minutes before the race and the cars line up on the grid. It's intriguing to think how all this excitement is created by an immense feat of teamwork that takes place off the track, starting long before the race. In fact, during the race, the drivers (though I don't want to underplay their skill) are assisted by a ground crew of 90 people, all of whom are in turn backed up by a team of approximately 600 engineers at Milton Keynes who closely monitor every indication from the vehicle. However, the team work doesn't end there.
Infiniti, the Japanese luxury car marque that has been a sponsor for the Red Bull Racing team since 2011, plays an important role. I had a quick chat with Christian Horner, Principal of the Red Bull racing team, who gave us his view on this “great relationship,” as he calls it. “We have a marketing aspect and a technical collaboration.” He spoke with special enthusiasm on the latter aspect, saying “we are working closely with Infiniti engineers and looking at future technologies. Something that as an independent Formula One team we would never have access to.”
But just how did this relationship come about? For that I went straight to Infiniti and asked Andreas Sigl, Global Director of Inifniti Formula One and the man behind this powerful match. His response? “I get bored easily.” A simple answer yet at the same time all the more revealing. It’s no wonder that he was drawn to Formula One, a sport in which things change in the blink of an eye. Where teamwork, determination and performance play a fundamental role, not just as a company mission, but to win. So in Red Bull, he found a team with an approach similar to that of Infiniti – it was a perfect match. Not to mention that, as Sigl added, “Infiniti had already been a sponsor for the Red Bull team in American Indy Racing.”
With 20 laps still to go I am taken to the garage for a ‘front-row view’ of this incredible teamwork. As I enter the garage I am given a headset to listen in on the team radio. Before me the mechanics sit and watch the race on the monitors. Then the announcement that Vettel must make a pit stop. Before the message is over the mechanics are on their feet and ready to change both tyres and nose. Within seconds the car pulls up, the team makes all the necessary adjustments and the car speeds away. You don’t feel this sort of excitement on TV! As the team go through their meticulously-coordinated teamwork, something on the tail of Vettel’s car catches my eye. I read ‘Inspired Performance.’ Two words. The perfect expression of the commitment and emotion of every single person on this team, and what it takes to be at the top.